Friday, June 3, 2011

Build and install custom Rock Band DLC on an unmodded XBox 360

UPDATE: RB3Maker can do a lot of this automatically, including album art conversion.  I still prefer doing it manually so that I can pack it for RB2 instead, but it's a really nice tool, and if he ever adds support for outputting RB2 .con's then I may convert to that method entirely.  If you want to continue to use this guide, I believe RB3Maker can be used in place of MahoppianGoon's DLC Tools to extract the .rba, and you can also use it to convert the album art for you.

I have been a long-time user of RawkSD for custom Rock Band DLC (user-made songs) on the Wii, but just recently heard that it was possible to install custom DLC on an un-modded XBox 360.  I got really excited about this, since the Wii version of Rock Band 3 is so full of software bugs that it never should have been released in its current state, and because of the way the Wii is, it will most likely (99% certainty) never receive an update to fix these bugs.  With XBox 360 customs possible on an unmodded console, I can enjoy customs, a better engine, and the improvements made in the newest installment of the game, all without wanting to tear my hair out on a regular basis.  Also, since the XBox 360 already supports the internal HD for saving DLC, I also get that particular upgrade over the Wii without any need for additional hacks (which tend to increase the frequency of Rock Band entirely freezing on my Wii).

Anyway, enough random backstory and on to the actual build-and-install.  MahoppianGoon has a great tutorial already, but many of the steps require manually creating files that you could just use Harmonix's official tools to create for you, so this guide will show you step-by-step how to set up and use Magma, Harmonix's official Rock Band Network tool, to create the files necessary for custom DLC and then how to repack and install them.

Note:  This is for Rock Band 2 DLC, not Rock Band 3.  Really the only reason you would need to create RB3 DLC is if you want to chart keyboard or PRO Guitar, as you can play Rock Band 2 DLC in Rock Band 3 as-is.  Also, since this is RB2 DLC, you will need Magma v1, which is no longer available on the RBN download site, so I have mirrored it.

First of all, here are the programs you will need:
Magma v1.20
Audacity 1.3.13 beta
MahoppianGoon's DLC Tools
Le Fluffie

Now to start building your custom DLC.

Skip to:
     -Recording a dryvox track (for lipsync animations)
Extracting the RBA
DTA Editing
Album Art
Building the DLC file

For the purpose of this tutorial, I am going to assume you already have your .mid file created.  If not, check out the Rock Band section of ScoreHero for tips on charting, or download one from someone else.

Some things to note:
Magma v1.20 introduced the requirement that all difficulties of guitar use all 5 gems.  If your chart does not do this, it won't pass the midi check stage of the compiler.  You can try v1.10 if this is your chart's only issue.

If you absolutely don't want to get your chart up to Magma's specs (which is usually a crash waiting to happen), you can use this .mid in Magma to get your song to compile.  Just be sure to use your real .mid in the final .con file.  Also, if you use that .mid and your song has a vocals track, use this file for your dryvox audio.

If you want lipsync animations, in addition to creating the dryvox audio (described in the audio section), you WILL have to fix your chart to pass Magma's checks, and you will need to have charted vocals.  Otherwise, Magma won't be able to generate lipsync animations.

UPDATE: I have come up with a method for creating .mogg files longer than Magma's normal 12 minute limit.  Magma still won't allow a MIDI file longer than that, but you can get around that by feeding Magma a dummy MIDI file then swapping it out in the final .con.  However, you lose Magma's validity parsing ability if you don't feed the real .mid to it, so proceed with caution.  The tool is here.

If you somehow happen to possess actual master tracks for the song you're working with, you simply need to mix down each instrument's track into a stereo, 44.1kHz WAV file.  If you're not so lucky and are just using a stereo audio file for your song, you will need to do the same, but most likely it will require a few extra steps.

First, open your audio file in Audacity.

Next, you need to determine whether or not the song requires an audio delay (this will most likely have been indicated on the page where you got the chart).

If your audio needs a delay, make sure the cursor is at the beginning of the song (by pressing the <|<| button while the song is stopped) and select Generate>Silence.  Type in the length of silence (you may have to change the time breakdown in the drop-down menu to allow you to enter milliseconds) and press Ok.

Select File>Export and select WAV under Save As type.

Next, if you don't have master tracks, you're going to need blank audio tracks.  First, delete the current audio tracks by clicking the X in the upper left corner of the track.  Then select Tracks>Add New>Stereo Track.  Then select Generate>Silence and enter 60 seconds.  Export this track as WAV.

Finally, the dryvox track.  If you don't care about lipsync animations, or your chart doesn't have a vocals track, you can skip this part.  If you want lipsync animations, you need to record yourself singing along to the song.  If you can't sing very well, I suggest you get a friend who can to do it for you, or just skip this part.  Also, you MUST HAVE A VOCALS CHART or else you can't generate lipsync animations, so just skip this.

First of all, open the first WAV you exported from Audacity back into Audacity (remove any other tracks that might be there).

Open the Device Toolbar (View>Toolbars>Device Toolbar) and next to the microphone icon, select the input you are going to use (Note: the Logitech universal USB microphone works as a plug-and-play microphone on Windows).

Hit the record button and make some noise into your microphone to test that it's working.  Hit stop to stop recording, then delete the recording you just made.

Make sure that you can actually hear the song playing while you are recording.  If not, select Edit>Preferences>Recording and check the box that says "Overdub: Play other tracks while recording new one"

Now, hit record and sing along to the song and hit stop when the song is done.

-Enunciate well.  You actually have to sing the words.  If you just hum along, the animations are going to do the same thing and that defeats the purpos.

-Sing the right notes.  If you don't sing the right notes, the weights compiler will factor that into the scoring for the song

-Use headphones.  That way you won't get the audio from the song itself bleeding into your recording.

Once you have your track recorded, remove the song track from Audacity, leaving only your recording.  Next, select the drop-down box in the lower-left corner of the window labeled "Project Rate (Hz)" and select 16000.

Export as WAV.

Now, we're going to set up Magma.  Open Magma and under the Information tab fill in all of the fields for Artist, Title, Album, etc.  Don't worry about album art, you won't be able to use it anyway.  Under the Build To field, put it wherever you want, but name it after the song ID that you are going to use for this custom.  A simple song ID is the song title in all lowercase with no spaces or punctuation.  If it's a really long title, you can shorten it for the ID.  The main thing is that every song needs a unique ID, so just make sure it's unique (i.e. "My Cool Song" could have the song ID "mycoolsong").  Remember this ID for later.

Next, under the Audio tab, if you have master tracks, put them in here.  If not, put your song track in as the backing, and the silence track in for every instrument that has a chart.  If you have vocals, you'll need to have the dryvox track made.

Under the Game Data tab, put your .mid in and set the difficulty for each instrument.

Now, save your .rbproj and try to build.  If you get errors with your chart, fix them.  If you get other errors that you don't understand, try the Rock Band section of the ScoreHero forums.  Rinse, lather, and repeat until you successfully generate an .rba file.

Extracting the RBA
Open MahoppianGoon's Rock Band DLC Tools to the RBA Extractor tab.  Open your .rba file and click "Extract All", then close Rock Band DLC Tools.

Rename the extracted files according to the song ID your chose.  The files should be named like this (assuming my song ID is "mycoolsong")

mycoolsong.mogg (it will originally be .ogg, you need to rename the extension as well)

Now you will need to create an empty .pan file.  Right-click in Windows Explorer and select New>Text File (not any other file type) and rename the file mycoolsong.pan.  Right-click on it and select Properties and the size should be 0 bytes.

Editing the DTA
The songs.dta generated by Magma needs a few changes to make it work for DLC.  Open it in your favorite text editor, it's just a text file.  First of all, at the very top of the file you should see:


Here, you need to replace 'song' with your song ID:


A bit further down you will find


Here, you will leave 'song' but change the line after 'name' to reflect your song ID:


Scroll down again and find:


Again, replace the word song with your song ID:


Now, if you want to fine-tune the difficulty ratings for your song, find the following lines (the numbers will be different):

   ('drum' 123)
   ('guitar' 123)
   ('bass' 123)
   ('vocals' 123)
   ('band' 123)

Change these to set the exact difficulty you want.  Check out this page for comparison with existing songs.

Finally, find the following line

('ugc' 1)

and delete the line entirely.  Now save and close the file.

Album Art
Update: Technicolor over at ScoreHero has implemented this info into an all-in-one tool that converts an RBA to a CON.  It's only for RB3, but if you just want the album art, it leaves all intermediate files, so you can just grab the artwork from there.  Get RB3Maker here

Album art is possible using Nachyoz's GH2 Image Converter, but the colors are all messed up. I HAVE figured how to fix the colors, but for now it requires manually hex-editing the image so for now I'm going to wait to post here until I can type up a decent explanation or code my own converter. Sorry...

If you are willing to try it, the basic steps (with no explanation yet, you'll have to figure it out yourself) are:

-Save the image as a 256-color, indexed bitmap (also known as 8-bit bitmap)
-Use Nachyoz's GH2ImageCon to convert to .bmp_ps2
-Manually hex-edit the color index in the .bmp_ps2. You need to make 2 changes.
   *.bmp_ps2 images store the color index as RGBA, .png_xbox expects ARGB. Just shuffle the values around.
   *change the alpha channel values to 0xFF (the default value is 0x80)
-Save the file as [songid]_keep.png_xbox (i.e. mycoolsong_keep.png_xbox) and place it in the gen folder

Here is a working example

Building the XBox DLC file
Open Le Fluffie and select File>Package Creation and choose STFS from the drop-down menu and click OK.  Enter the following information:

Package Type (the drop-down menu that says "None" by default): SavedGame
Title ID: 45410869
Description (Be sure to select the radio button for "Description" instead of "Display Title"): "My Cool Song" (Replace this with whatever the song title actually is, include the quotes).
Internal Title: Rock Band 2

Now, right-click on each of the two small white squares to the right of the info pane and click Add Image.  This is where you select the image you'll see in the XBox System Settings menu.  You can use any 64x64 .png image (official DLC uses a scaled down copy of the song's album art), but here's the official RB package icons if you prefer:

RB1 Icon:

RB2 Icon:

RB3 Icon:

A couple of RawkSD icons I made:

Next, in the upper-left pane, right-click on the word "root" and select Add Folder.  Name this folder "songs" (no quotes).  Now click the '+' next to root and right-click on "songs" and Add Folder.  Name the folder your song ID with no quotes.  Click the '+' next to your song ID, and add a folder named "gen" (again, no quotes).  Click the '+', then select "gen".

Right-click in the right-hand pane under where it says "file" and select Add Files.  Select the .milo_xbox and the _weights.bin files.  Next select the song ID folder and add the .mid, .mogg, and .pan.  Select the songs folder and add the .dta.  Your files should be in this hierarchy:


Now click on the Finalization tab.  Select STFS Type 0 in the drop-down box and the radio button for CON (Provided KV) and click Create Package.  Name it whatever you want, but I suggest [song ID].con (i.e. mycoolsong.con).

The easiest way to install is if you have a spare flash drive at least 1GB in size.  Clear everything off of the flash drive, then format it by going to the XBox 360 System Settings menu>Memory>USB Storage Device>Configure Now (or Customize if you want to manually specify how much of the flash drive to devote to XBox storage).  Note: This will delete everything off of the flash drive.  You have been warned!

Once it is configured, navigate to your data for Rock Band 2 (either on the hard drive or the internal memory) and copy the Rock Band 2 Song Cache to the flash drive you just configured (nothing special about the song cache, you just need SOME file from RB2 on the flash drive in order to create the proper folder on the flash drive)

Unplug the flash drive from the XBox and plug it in to your PC, then open Modio and select Explore a device

In the new window that comes up, select File>Open/Close Drive.

Navigate to Content\Downloads\Rock Band 2\Game Saves.

Right-click in the right-hand pane and select Insert File.  Browse to and select your .con file.

Select File>Open/Close Drive to close the drive, then eject it and insert it into the XBox.  If you did everything correctly, the song should show up on the flash drive and in the Rock Band 2 song list.  If it works, you can copy it off of the flash drive to your hard drive or internal memory if you like.

Have fun :)


  1. I'm glad you posted this man. I have wanted to create my own RB songs for a VERY long time, but the only info out there seems to be about the XNA Creators/RBN garbage. As someone who is new to hacking, I found your instructions to be complete yet simple. My only problem was that the link to MahoppianGoon's DLC Tools seems to be broken.Could you please update the link or send me a new one? Thanks.

  2. Check out RB3Maker, it should be able to extract the RBA.

  3. Thanks for the old versions of Magma. :)

    1. ...and the length work-around. Missed that until now. Should this work with old and new versions of Magma?